For many, the idea of eating raw fish is really disgusting. It can be hard to convince others to move out of the comfort zone and give it the good ole’ college try. They want to stick to their classic burgers and pasta, and seafood in particular might not be for them… yet.
While sushi can be an acquired taste, it is well worth introducing it to others. After all, plenty of places have all-you-can-eat specials so a large party to go with is a critical strategy to being able to try everything. Or you might just want to enjoy the food you love with the people you love.
In order to convert them into fans follow this trajectory:
Step 1: Start slow with more Americanized menu options
Similar to going to the gym, going to a restaurant with items that are foreign can be intimidating. Rather than choosing a mostly sushi establishment, take them to one with basic Japanese options like chicken teriyaki, steak hibachi, or pad thai! Then they can order something familiar while you stick to your favorite sushi. If they are open they can try a piece or two of yours if desired.
Step 2: Introduce basic Japanese 101 choices
What are the most common items that come with most Japanese meals? Miso soup, salad with ginger dressing, edamame, and California rolls! Introduce your loved one to these starter choices and get their take on what they think of them. Bento boxes are a good recommendation. None are spicy and are pretty universal in taste. Even the California rolls have shrimp in them and not raw fish so hopefully they will be willing to try it.
This might also be a good time to introduce dry seaweed. Ask your waitress for a piece of nori.
Step 3: Transition to raw fish
Nigiri is a specific type of sushi consisting of a slice of raw fish over pressed vinegared rice. Try offering tuna or salmon nigiri as those shouldn’t present an overwhelming or super chewy taste. This is helpful to get the basic palette down before introducing more complex options with other out-there ingredients like mango, eel, or squid.
On another note, if your loved one can handle spicy food let them have a go with wasabi and ginger! Even better, have them practice utilizing chopsticks rather than a fork.
Step 4: Participate in all-you-can-eat
If your loved one is on board and ready to try more, now is the exciting time when you can take them to an all-you-can-eat experience! This free-for-all is an excellent opportunity for them to try all kind of choices like more traditional Philadelphia or Alaska rolls, to adventurous options like a Dynamite roll (salmon, tuna, white fish, avocado, in a tempura style and served with spicy eel sauce) or a Spicy Dragon roll (spicy crabmeat, tuna and tempura flakes, topped with eel and avocado).
More Americanized version of sushi also offers cooked options which can be fun. Godzilla rolls (spicy crabmeat, cream cheese, avocado, in tempura style) and Monster rolls (shrimp tempura, cream cheese, avocado topped with tempura kani spicy mayo) are delicious.
Don’t forget about yummy deserts like red bean or green tea ice cream!
The most important thing to remember is that people are afraid of what they don’t know and often assume that they will not like it. As the same time, it might also take multiple attempts to get them to try different flavor offerings before finding some that they enjoy.
The key is to not press them on different items and gently expose them to Japanese cuisine. Before you know it they will be requesting octopus! Good luck!